This is for all international tourists who are planning to visit Ajanta/ Ellora caves that the ASI officials have stopped accepting dollars as entry fees to these places. you have to pay compulsorily in indian rupees only (Rs 250 / person)
for any other information regarding visiting these places please feel free to mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ellora Caves - Cave 1`
Cave 1sits at the southern most end of the Ellora Caves and are made up of threecells. These cells seem to be used more for storage rather than for religious reasons. The location of the caves is particularly attractive because of the lovely waterfall that dropped down the cliffside into a creek below the caves.
Daulatabad (meaning City of Prosperity) is a fortified city located 16km (10 miles) northwest of Aurangabad. The area was once known as Devagiri, (circa sixth century AD), when it was an important uplands city along caravan routes but is now just a village, based around the former city of the same name. The city is said to have been founded around 1187 by Bhillama V, a prince who renounced his allegiance to the Chalukyas and established the power of the Yadava dynasty in the west. There is a tradition that Devegiri was built in 1203 by a herdsman who amassed a great fortune. In 1294 the fort was captured by Ala-ud-din Khilji, and the rajas, so powerful that they held the Sultans of Delhi to ransom to be the rulers of all Deccan. However, the ransom failed and Devagiri was again occupied by the Muslims under Malik Kafur, in 1307. Devagiri now became an important base for the operations of the Delhi Sultanate's conquering expeditions southwards. In 1327 Muhammad bin Tughluq, determined to make it his capital, changed its name to Daulatabad, and tried to march the whole population of Delhi to it. It remained in the hands of the Bahmanis till 1526, when it was taken by the Nizam Shahis. It was then captured by the Mughal emperor Akbar, but in 1595 it again surrendered to Ahmad Nizam Shah. His successors held it until they were overthrown by Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor, in 1633; after which it remained in the possession of the Delhi emperors until, after the death of Aurangzeb, it fell to the first Nizam of Hyderabad. However, it then fell into ruin and decay which is how it exists today.
The outer wall, 2.75 miles (4.43 km) in circumference, once enclosed the ancient city of Devagiri, and between this and the base of the upper fort are three lines of defences. Other structures include the 210ft (64m) high Chand Minar tower which was originally covered with beautiful Persian glazed tiles. It was erected in 1435 by Ala-ud-din Bahmani to commemorate his capture of the fort. The Chini Mahal, or China Palace, is the ruin of a building once of great beauty.
The area of the city includes the hill-fortress of Devagiri which stands on a conical hill, about 200 meters high. You can climb to the top of the hill, by entering through the remains of the fort, where the views over the surrounding landscape are pretty good. I came here as part of a tour I did to the Ellora Caves, which also included a visit to Khuldabad (the burial place of Emperor Aurangzeb).
Open: 6am-6pm. Admission: Rs100 for foreigners.
Carved between the 2nd century BC and the 6th century AD, the Ajanta Caves are considered masterpieces of Buddhist art. Much like the nearby Ellora site, Ajanta is a fascinating site on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. However, while it does not have a single magnificent temple to boast, such as the Kailasa at Ellora, Ajanta more than compensates with its dramatic setting and well-preserved colourful Buddhist murals and intricately decorated cave-temples. The 30 exclusively Buddhist caves at Ajanta were carved into a cliff within a gorge shaped like a horseshoe. Ajanta is located about 1:45 hours north-west of Aurangabad and is easily accessible by car or bus.
For more, check out my Ajanta page.
Ellora Caves - Buddhist
There are 12 Buddhist Caves at Ellora - numbers 1-12. The caves comprise of Chaityas (shrines) and Viharas (monasteries). Cave number 1 is possibly the earliest excavation; the Buddhist caves date back to 500-700 A.D.
In comparison to the slightly elaborate Jain Caves and the very elaborate Hindu Caves, the Buddhist Caves are almost serene. But it is that very simplicity that I found beautiful. Of course it was easy to imagine the lives of the Buddhists who prayed and meditated (and ate and slept) on the very hard rock floors!
Cave 1 is a plain vihara with eight cells. The cells were bare rock and were used for solitary meditation. They indeed looked as uncomfortable as a prison cell but for some inexplainable reason, I really liked this Cave.
Cave 2 is a monastery - 50 feet high - having a central hall with pillars and a gallery of Buddhas.
Cave 5 was another of my favorite Buddhist Caves. It is also the largest - 117 feet long by 56 feet wide. Twenty four pillars hold up the roof. It looks like it may have been used as a classroom for young monks. At the far end of the Cave is a Buddha image in a chapel.
What is interesting in Cave 6 is that in the antechamber there is a statue of the Hindu goddess of learning, Saraswati. Apparently the boundaries between Hinduism and Buddhism are fuzzy and Hindus recognize and worship some Buddhist god/goddesses as their own and vice-versa.
Cave 10, also known as Visvakarma, was my favorite Buddhist Cave. It is a chaitya-hall and the only Buddhist chapel at Ellora. The monastery is on the ground floor and the chamber has 28 columns, dividing it up into a nave and aisles. At the back is a huge figure of (Teaching) Buddha carved under a votive stupa. There is a high ceiling with stone rafters. A monk would go up against a column and chant; the chant would echo through the whole monastery. I imagine it was a beautiful sound. (Our guide quitely chanted near a pillar and we were able to hear him throughout the chaitya.)
Cave 12 is a three storied cave and is also known as Teen-thaal. It has an open court and has porches supported by pillars in each storey. The outside is very plain looking but the hall on each floor has decorated galleries with Buddhas carved on the walls. The nicest statue is the Buddha (in deep meditation) in the shrine.
Please see my travelogues for additional photos.
Please see my "Things To Do: Fantastic Caves at Ellora" tip for specific visitor information and "special tip".